Cape Town - A wealth tax on the country’s richest 1% hoarding around 55% of the country’s wealth would open the doors to redressing historical and structural inequality.
Around 30 farm women from the Cape Winelands, De Doorns, Paarl, Wellington and Rawsonville, on Wednesday demonstrated outside Parliament, calling on the National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service to implement a wealth tax on the richest 1% of South Africans.
While women farmworkers and dwellers remain landless, experience evictions, and low wages for mostly seasonal work, Women on Farms Project (WoFP) and the Feminist Reparation Campaign said 1% of the population (about 356000 people) owned around 55% of the country’s wealth.
A wealth tax would redress structural inequalities with the revenue generated through the tax to be used to finance land redistribution, universal quality healthcare, free quality education and a basic income grant (BIG) for poor South Africans, including farmworkers and dwellers.
Feminist Reparation campaign and WoFP co-ordinator Kara Mackay said their demand for the wealth tax was based on several studies that said a wealth tax in South Africa was feasible and possible.
“The scope of inequality is seismic and we’re saying as South Africans and as farm women this is unacceptable. We cannot live like this, it’s not fair, it’s not just. And we want rectification of this inequality, which if we look at it, has historical roots.”
WoFP member Magrieta Prins from De Doorns said: “That wealth tax will bring many changes in many houses of farmworkers, because we’re asking for land for women, quality universal healthcare, wealth tax, free quality education, and a BIG.”
WoFP director Colette Solomon said the introduction of a wealth tax and BIG would address the country’s deepening structural inequality.
“In order to address inequality and also in terms of historical reparation, we think a wealth tax is a progressive mechanism to do that but then also on a practical level, a wealth tax will generate extra revenue and if the wealthy 1% are taxed at between 3-7%, that can generate extra revenue of between R140 billion to R170bn and with that money, we can then address things like land redistribution. We know that the land reform/land redistribution budget has been declining in real terms over time,” Solomon said.
“We need land so we can build decent, dignified houses and be secure, not face the constant threat of evictions from farms.
“We want to produce our own food, household insecurity on farms is very rife, especially during the off season, during winter months when women aren't employed.”